How Effective is Gospel Tract Saturation?
By Jennifer Slattery –
Hyper-Calvinism says all we need to do is share the gospel, share the gospel, share the gospel and zap, the Holy Spirit reaches down and brings man to salvation. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s some truth to that in that apart from the working of the Holy Spirit, man cannot come to Christ. However, this approach, what I like to term gospel tract saturation, fails to take into account human reasoning. And a great deal of the Bible.
I believe the Holy Spirit works in conjunction with the intellect, penetrating through the darkness that keeps man in rebellion against God while illuminating truth. Belief is assent at a heart and intellectual level. Taking both aspects into account strengthens our message.
Effective evangelism occurs in relationship
Dropping a gospel tract at countless doorsteps won’t cut it. Oh, sure, perhaps five percent of those visited might make a confession of faith, but likely because someone already laid the groundwork, and you just happened to be there to reap the harvest.
Notice Jesus’ instructions to the disciples when He sent them out in Luke 9:4
Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.
When they reached a new village, they were to stay in one house. I believe this was to establish community. Perhaps we need to spend as much time relationship building as we do proclaiming.
Effective evangelism adapts to the listener
One of my favorite examples of this is in Acts 17. When speaking to the Romans, Paul reasoned with them, displaying the coherency of God.
“While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:16-17 NIV).
And notice what God says in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (NIV © 1984).
Throughout Scripture, we see the Holy Spirit working through human logic. This is not to say the gospel message is adapted, but instead, how it is presented is. To be effective, we must take time to learn the unique barriers to faith held by each individual so we can prayerfully and patiently address those barriers.
Effective Evangelism Takes the Time to Understand Their Audience
Notice the passage in Acts. When Paul entered the city, he observed the culture of the people around Him. He noticed their idols–their barriers to faith–then addressed those barriers in his message, demonstrating the superiority of the gospel message.
Have you ever talked with someone and felt like they didn’t hear a word you said? Or asked a question only to have them provide an irrelevant answer? Does it make you want to hear more or walk away?
Effective evangelism speaks with humility
No one wants to feel stupid. No one wants to be cajoled into faith. Truly, most people want to feel as if they’ve arrived at the conclusion themselves. Our goal then is to gently guide our listener or reader into discovery, asking thought provoking questions and pointing them to the truth of Scripture. In essence, we walk beside them, ever alert to their pace and committed to the journey regardless of how long it takes.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you agree or disagree? What are some effective ways you believe to reach others for Christ?